A naturally occurring silvery-white metal smelted from the
ore, Bauxite. Because of its chemical form, aluminium never
occurs in the metallic form in nature, but its compounds are
present to varying degrees in almost all rocks, vegetation,
Despite being the most abundant metallic element, constituting
8.1 percent of the Earth's crust there is no dietary requirement
As a food additive it is used solely for external decoration
where it can be found in the covering of dragées and
the decoration of sugar-coated flour confectionery, in cake
decorations and to give a silvery finish to pills and tablets.
However, it is also added to the tap water drinking supply
in some areas to remove discoloration and is widely available
in antacid treatments. It can also be ingested from soft drinks
in aluminium cans used past their sell-by dates, when the aluminium
content of the drink has been found to exceed the limits laid
down by the EC for drinking water, and by the use of aluminium
pots and pans and cooking utensils.
There is an increasing body of evidence to suggest that an
accumulation of aluminium in the cells of the nervous system
could be potentially toxic. It is found in abnormally high levels
in the brain cells of Alzheimer's disease sufferers, accumulated
in the neurofibrillary tangles and neuritic plaques, but it
is not yet known whether it has a causative or resultant role
in the disease.
Several reports also suggest that a high aluminium intake may
have adverse effects on the metabolism of phosphorous and calcium
in the human body and may induce or intensify skeletal abnormalities
such as osteoporosis.
Increased urinary excretion of magnesium and calcium has been
reported following regular antacid use.
Not permitted in Australia.